The best supporting actress category is quite a difficult one to decide this soon after the announcement of the nominations. Usually the Golden Globes and the SAG awards set the path for the Oscar. This year it could be anyone’s guess.
Jennifer Jason Leigh The Hateful Eight
When acting in a Quentin Tarantino movie, the possibility of garnering an Academy Award nomination is not out of the ordinary. For Jennifer Jason Leigh her role as the arrogant and sarcastic bounty on her way to be hanged, is no doubt one of the highlights of her career as it brought her the first Oscar nomination in her long career. It’s the kind of character and role that Tarantino loves to create and almost always casts perfectly. Leigh is not exactly the front runner, but is by no means the dark horse in this tight race. Don’t be shocked if she walks away with gold.
Rooney Mara Carol
This is the second nomination for Rooney Mara and it is a drastically different role from her first nomination in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Mara plays the shy and self conscious Therese Belivet opposite fellow nominee, Cate Blanchett. The story of a young girl falling in love and having an affair with an older, married woman, has produced much praise and quite a few nominations. Mara one of the top three in this category that are the closest choices.
Rachel McAdams Spotlight
Rachel McAdams is one of those stars that really has the great ability to balance between good money making films and is also willing to take on challenging roles. Her roles range from Wedding Crashers and Mean Girls to Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris and A Most Wanted Man. She has done her best to continue in her diversity and not settle into the easy money and finding her face on billboards all over town. Her portrayal of Boston Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer is one of the roles where she isn’t front and center. Her interpretation shows the work ethic and unstoppable ability to find the truth for not only journalistic integrity, but for the quest to find the truth. McAdams is more of a long shot here as evidenced by her somewhat surprising nomination. If Spotlight is going to have a big night it could all start with her.
Alicia Vikander The Danish Girl
Alicia Vikander has been one of the biggest breakout stars of the year with the highly praised sleeper hit, Ex-Machina and of course her nominated role as Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl opposite fellow nominee, Eddie Redmayne. She is primed to be one of Hollywoods brightest young stars and this could be how it starts, much like it did with Jennifer Lawrence when she was an unknown when she received her first nomination for Winters Bone. Vikander is closer to McAdams in this category when it comes to her odds (again, much like Lawrence’s unlikely first win).
Kate Winslet Steve Jobs
Kate Winslet is quickly becoming the next Meryl Streep with now having her seventh nomination in twenty years. This is her first nomination since she won for her extraordinary performance in The Reader seven years ago. This time around, she is playing Steve Jobs long time assistant, Joanna Hoffman in Danny Boyle’s biopic Steve Jobs. The great thing about her performance is that, not only is she up to the task spitting out the insane amount of dialogue writer Aaron Sorkin loads in his films, but she does so with a perfect yet very subtle polish accent. Her accent is not one that fades in and out, but is clearly true of someone highly educated in English speaking schools and who has spent quite a bit of time in America. She delivers what we have come to expect from her so well she can’t be ignored and is the very early favorite in this category as was evidenced by her win at the Golden Globes which even took her by surprise.
So, no hard predictions yet, but a brief look at the first of eight major categories I will take examine before laying out my final ballot.